Katie Gillies is a surface and product designer from Nottingham, England. She specializes in using Jesmonite, which is an acrylic and resin based material, to create her colorful terrazzo surfaces and products. Every piece is carefully cast by hand and is completely unique in its color and design.
1. Your home is incredible. Any tips on keeping a fun and vibrant home? Thank you so much! I’m really attracted to colour, so making my space bright and colourful comes naturally to me. When we moved into our flat, I knew I wanted it to be a space where I could showcase my work and experiment with styling my own pieces too. Instagram is a great place to find inspiration; I absolutely love to see how other people style their own homes. My favourite interior accounts are @pearly_interiors, @_homedreaming, but there are so many I could list!
2. You have the best mug collection we've ever seen. Any plans to start making your own mugs, or are there any other products on the horizon? I do love mugs a lot! I have actually tested making my own mug, but it is very hard to make the material I work with food-safe. It’s something I will continue testing in the future and would love to potentially collaborate with someone on. Currently, I am working on developing a lot of furniture pieces, so large items such as plinths, side tables and an even bigger mirror are all in the pipeline! Of course, I hope to spend some time developing smaller products too. However, one of my biggest focuses for this year is working to make my products more accessible, as at the moment I sell out so quickly – which means it’s a struggle for people to secure my work.
3. What color is exciting you the most at the moment? Lately, I’ve been finding myself subliminally drawn to blues – I’m not sure why! But I am currently experimenting with a pale blue that has terracotta tones – it’s earthier than my other blues and I think it will feature more in my next colour collection. In terms of the most exciting colour, I would have to say oranges, especially rust and burnt shades. I never get bored of working with orange and it always inspires me to play and experiment – it’s my all- time favourite colour to work with.
4. What's your favorite way to slow down? Slowing down is hard for me to be honest! When I do plan downtime I find it helps for me to proactively do something to help shift my mindset. Doing something like going on a bike ride as soon as I wake up, before a day or afternoon of relaxing, helps me to unwind later. The only other way I switch off is by watching reality TV! I find it turns off my brain and I can truly slow down when binge-watching something fun and easy-going!
5. What's your go-to recipe when you want some comfort food? My favourite cosy food is stereotypically British: chip shop chips with loads of vinegar and mushy peas (I have to eat this while on the sofa for ultimate comfort)! When it comes to a recipe...I don’t think I’m a very good cook! However, if I was making something comfort-food-wise it would be creamy pasta with rocket and mushrooms.
6. What are you listening to in the workshop at the moment? My current Spotify playlist is a mix of new and old tracks! There is quite a lot by Chloe X Halle on there, KAYTRANADA and WILLOW. There are a few songs from Tyler, the Creator’s Flower Boy album alongside Jorja Smith and Cleo Sol too.
7. What's the most memorable book you've read in the last few years? I’m dyslexic, so reading isn’t something that comes too easily to me! However, I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts and audiobooks. I’ve recently finished Jen Atkin’s new book Blowing My Way to the Top, which was really interesting, especially her insight into habit trackers. She’s a really inspiring businesswoman! Podcast –wise I listen to a lot but I’ve just finished BBC Sounds The Missing Crypto Queen which is a fascinating look into a scandal based in the world of cryptocurrencies.
8. Any advice for young surface or product designers starting out? The only advice I can give is based on my own experience. For me, staying active on social media has always really helped me to grow and raise awareness of my work. People are interested in the process and development stages of what I do, not just my products. It’s the juicy bit and provides value to the viewer. Of course, that being said, show some of your processes but keep some of them private (your own tricks and secrets!). I would also advise young designers to trust their gut too. You know what feels right for your brand and work, you don’t need to say yes to everything all of the time.
9. What are you most looking forward to when the world is back to normal? Going to the cinema! I really miss the cinema experience and cannot wait to go see a film as soon as everything re-opens. Another small thing I miss is just browsing in-stores, I love walking around bustling shops and high streets. Of course, I am keen to get travelling again too. Last year I was meant to travel a lot for work, even hosting workshops in America, so I am keen to pick up those plans and also book a proper holiday too.